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Newport: Seaside Resort, Cultural Authenticity

Newport has a unique combination of qualities that attracts millions from all over the world every year.

We have authentic historic sites, fine art and architecture, outstanding yachting, fishing, golfing and beaches, internationally-acclaimed events, spectacular wedding venues, and a charming ocean side location. 

Trinity_Church,_Newport,_RI
Trinity Church

Newport's Unique History

Newport was one of the largest and most important Colonial seaports in the British Empire before the American Revolution, and is the birthplace of religious freedom.

Newport was the first City in World history where all people were allowed to express themselves freely, worship without interference, and governed by an elected, secular government. The King Charles II Charter of 1663, drafted by Newport physician and minister John Clarke, provided the first formal conveyance of these freedoms to the people of a geopolitical entity.

Newport is the last intact wooden city in North America, with over 300 buildings dating before the American Revolution.

Our Gilded Age mansions are not only a time capsule of a period when America was becoming an economic power, but are a product of the artistic talent of some of the finest architects in American history. For this, in 2007, the US National Park Service recognized Newport as "worthy" of World Heritage designation.

Brick Market Museum2
Brick Market Museum

Griswold House2
Griswold House

Shopping, Lodging, Dining

Newport's shopping districts include: Broad Street, lower Thames Street, Thames Street, Spring Street, Brick Market, Bellevue Avenue and Bowen's and Bannister's Wharves.

Walking Tours

Newport is a most walkable city. Enjoy a walking tour of historic Newport.

"Newport's Old Quarter, the Arts and Culture Neighborhood" is a delightful walking tour map directing visitors to the cultural and historic sites of Colonial Newport. Copies available at the Newport County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

Tour guides are available by contacting the Newport Historical Society

The AIA Newport Walking Guide by Ron Onorato (2007) is indispensable for those interested in Newport's architectural history. For the Colonial era, Washington Square, nearby Clarke and Division Streets, as well as the entire Point neighborhood has an enormous degree of architectural integrity.

In addition to the Gilded Age mansions of the Bellevue Avenue Historic District, the Kay/Catherine and Old Beach Street neighborhoods have many beautiful Victorian homes to see.

The Elms2
The Elms

hunter-house
Hunter House

Colonial Newport

The Redwood Library and Athenaeum (1747) the oldest continuous lending library in the United States.

Touro Synagogue
Touro Synagogue

Touro Synagogue (1763), the oldest Synagogue in the United States.

Colony House (1741), one of Rhode Island's four Colonial capitols, and site of the filming of the courthouse scene in the movie Armistead.

Isaac Bell House3
Isaac Bell House

Old Colony House2
Colony House

Brick Market (1772) is Newport's original center of commerce, now occupied by the Museum of Newport History.

Trinity Church (1726) is the oldest Episcopal parish in Rhode Island. The first church was built in 1700. The present church was built in 1725-26, designed by local builder Richard Munday, who based his designs on those that he had seen that Sir Christopher Wren had used in London churches in the late 17th century.

White Horse Tavern (1763) is the oldest operating tavern in the United States.

Whitehorne House Museum (1811) features Doris Duke's collection of Colonial and Federal era furniture.

Vernon House (1708) located on the corner of Clarke and Mary Street, is privately owned. The Vernon House served as General Rochambeau's headquarters during 1780-81, where he and George Washington laid the groundwork for the final assault on the British army that ended the American Revolution. Ronchambeau and his 6000 French troops landed in Newport in 1780; the Franco-American alliance was critical for American victory.

Stone Tower3
Stone Tower

Friends Meeting House
Friends Meeting House

The Stone Tower, (also known as: Newport Tower, Round Tower, Touro Tower, Newport Stone Tower, Old Stone Mill, OSM and Mystery Tower) a structural remnant of either a Colonial grist mill or a Viking observatory, depending on your historical persuasion.

Friends Meeting House (1699). One of the oldest houses of worship in the United States.

Hunter House (1748) features a fine collection of Townsend and Goddard furniture.

Wanton-Lyman-Hazard House (1697) one of the oldest surviving residences in America.

Common Burying Ground on Farewell Street is distinguished in that it is the only Colonial-era cemetery which is inclusive of residents of all ethic and religious groups, including one of the most important surviving African-American sites, now known as "God's Little Acre".

Gilded Age Newport

The Preservation Society of Newport County's fine collection of mansions on or in the vicinity of Bellevue Avenue, representing high architectural style in the 1840-1920 period, include: The Breakers(1895), Chateau-sur-Mer (1852), Chepstow (1860), The Elms (1901), Isaac Bell House (1883), Kingscote (1839), Marble House (1892), and Rosecliff (1902).

Rough Point (1891), the home of heiress Doris Duke. Also see Newport Restoration Foundation.

Newport Casino
Newport Casino

Wanton Lyman Hazard House2
Wanton Lyman Hazard House

The International Tennis Hall of Fame, located in the McKim, Meade and White designed Newport Casino (1881) has a wonderful museum and many seasonal attractions.

Newport Art Museum, located in the Griswold House (1864), an original "Stick" architectural style structure.

City Hall (1900, 1927) (you are here!), with its granite façade and promenant white and gold spire, is the seat of local government and center of civic activity.

Astor's Beechwood (1853). Currently, the estate is operated as Newport's only living history museum and features actors portraying the daily lives of those who inhabited, ran and cared for the estate.

Belcourt Castle (1894), is the former summer cottage of Oliver Hazard Perry Belmont. Begun in 1891 and completed in 1894, it was only intended to be used for six to eight weeks of the year.

Edward King House (1846), a beautiful Italianate mansion adjacent to the Newport Public Library.

Ochre Court (1892) is one of the grandest of the original mansions, designed by Richard Morris Hunt, and currently serves as the adminsitration building for Salve Regina University.

Yachting and Ocean Recreation

The Cliff Walk, a 3.5 mile path running from Memorial Boulevard to Ocean Drive, and includes breathtaking ocean vistas and glimpses of Newport mansions on Bellevue Avenue. Free to the public, there is ample parking and restroom facilities nearby at Easton's Beach.

Easton's Beach, Newport's own family-friendly, full-service, 3/4 mile long ocean surf beach. Save the Bay Exploration Center and Aquarium is located in the Easton's Beach Rotunda.

Chateau Sur Mer
Chateau Sur Mer

Rosecliff2
Rosecliff

The Museum of Yachting, located at Fort Adams features exhibits on the evolution of Sparkman and Stephens designs and on the 53 years Newport hosted the America's Cup. The International Yacht Restoration School, located on Lower Thames Street, in the recently-restored Newport Steam Mill Building (1831,1865)

Newport Harbor, where you can take a water taxi or boat tour and see some of the finest collections of yachts anywhere, including a fleet of America's Cup 12 meter sailboats.

Ocean Drive Historic District and Brenton Point State Park provide expansive ocean vistas.

Rose Island Lighthouse (1869), accessible by Jamestown-Newport ferry.

Sail Newport provides sailboat rentals.

Yacht tours of Newport Harbor provide continuous service throughout the summer season.

White Horse Tavern
White Horse Tavern

Common Burying Ground
Common Burying Ground

Saltwater Sportsmen's Paradise

Every year, about 300,000 sport anglers seek finfish and shellfish in the Rhode Island's salt waters. It is a popular, rewarding pastime as well as a business.

Newport Harbor hosts one of three entrances to Narragansett Bay, the East Passage between Jamestown & Newport, under the Claiborne Pell Newport Bridge.

Narragansett Bay - Mount Hope Bay - Sakonnet River: Fish and Fishing - Weather - Surf - Tide Reports

The Arts

Newport has more than 30 private galleries, and hosts Gallery Night every third Thursday, February through November.

The Newport Art Museum collections and exhibitions focus on the visual artists of Newport and southeastern New England, reflecting both the rich heritage of the past and the lively art scene of the present.

Music

The Newport Jazz Festival is a music festival held every summer in Newport. It was established in 1954 by the jazz impresario George Wein, prompted by socialite Elaine Lorillard, whose wealthy husband helped finance the festival's startup.

The Newport Folk Festival was founded in 1959 by Theodore Bikel, Oscar Brand, Pete Seeger and George Wein, founder of the already-well-established Newport Jazz Festival, and his partner, Albert Grossman.

Military History

Fort Adams (1857) took 33 years to complete, and is the largest and most outstanding example of military architecture for the period between the War of 1812 and the Civil War. Fort Adams is now home of the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals (see above). One of the casemates was recently restored, and there are many reenactments and other events, as well as daily tours in season.

The US Naval War College (NWC or NAVWARCOL) is an education and research institution of the United States Navy that specializes in developing ideas for naval warfare and passing them along to officers of the Navy.

The United States Naval War College Museum's themes are the history of naval warfare, particularly as studied at the College, and the naval heritage of Narragansett Bay - a tale that begins with the nation's colonial roots.

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) is the U.S. Navy's full-spectrum research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support center for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, and offensive and defensive weapons systems associated with undersea warfare.

Theatre

The Firehouse Theater; Jane Pickens Theatre and Event Center and Newport Playhouse is both a movie and a theatre.

Academia

Salve Regina University, located in the beautiful Ochre Point neighborhood, is a small liberal arts college with enormous cultural vitality. Since its founding by the Sisters of Mercy, the university (a co-ed, private, non-profit institution chartered by the State of Rhode Island in 1934) has aquired several gilded age properties, including Carey Mansion, Wakehurst Mansion and the Young Building, home to the Pell Center for International Relations & Public Policy.

The Community College of Rhode Island has a new Newport campus on John H. Chafee Boulevard.

The United States Naval War College, founded in 1884, has a proud history of providing professional military education programs accessible to qualified U.S. officers and Navy enlisted personnel, civilian employees of the U.S. Government and non-governmental organizations, and international officers.

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